Does music help you exercise?

Interesting, and quick, read in the New York Times about the effects of music when you exercise. In short, it helps up to the point of intense (that is full-out, 90%+) effort. Up to that point, the music distracts your busy conscious mind from dwelling on how tired you think you are when you’re running, cycling, training for that triathlon. At full effort, your body demands your brain’s attention and the music doesn’t matter too much. This is about what

Another Rung

I’m taking a lot of inspiration from Steven Pressfield’s latest blogs about fighting through Resistance. Writing is just another performance, really, no different from hitting a drive, making a presentation to a cross-armed crowd, cooking a meal. The best stuff comes out when I go thought to thought, moment to moment and hold back that annoying, mean-spirited voice whispering that everything I’m doing is rubbish. That comes later, during the edit or the debrief or the tasting. But now, as

Fearing the page

I wrote 1800 words yesterday. Today: zero. The irony of it all is that I’m trying to write about fear and performance and I can’t get started because I’m afraid it will suck. I should just write it so I can read it and get through this. Getting over myself and just getting started applies to almost EVERYTHING. Related articles by Zemanta Why you fail at writing ( The despair of the blank page (

Writing a book

I realized that there’s been a gap in my postings this summer. I decided to write a book about the psychology of athletic performance. I’ve been a bit heads-down since March and just recently I’ve come up for air, looked around and realized that it’s August. Writing, for me, it’s hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m having a great time doing it. Stay tuned.


Jim Collins, Stanford Business School professor and author of “Built to Last” and “Good to Great” brought forward the idea of “fallure” when talking about the value of failure on the path to mastery. He describes a rock-climbing experience when he was attempting an “on-sight”: climbing a rock face the first time without ever having seen the route. He let go off the rock before reaching the top. Later, after feeling the regret for not making the on-sight, he realized

It’s Nothing. Really.

Image via Wikipedia An example of talent coming from those hours of deliberate practice is Denard Span, hitter for the Minnesota Twins. He has an extraordinary on-base percentage, and he tells of the moment he became a great hitter: “…there was no moment. There wasn’t a time when I thought, Oh, this is how you work the count. Oh, this is how you work for a walk. You just pick things up with experience, and then you pick up a

Raising the Stakes

Image via Wikipedia You read about athletes artificially raising the stakes when they practice or are playing at other sports. Michael Jordan would bet thousands on a single round of golf, had a well-documented love for gambling and was known as being the most competitive person you’ll ever meet. While he was enjoying the thrill of high stakes bets he was exercising his tolerance for performing well under pressure. Michael Jordan had a reputation as being the one player you

Peformance Anxiety

The stress and nervousness that you feel coming up to and during a performance is vital to elite performance. This arousal is your body’s way of preparing to deliver a peak performance: dry mouth, sweating, wanting to throw up and shaking are all physical preparations by your body. We often confuse this physical state of readiness with anxiety, a fear of performing, of failing, of not producing our best game. Why do we get anxious? Consider a ten year old


“Self-consciousness is the enemy of accomplishment” – Philip K. Howard, TED 2010, referring to the complexity of the American legal system. Even an attorney realizes that over-thinking hurts performance.

When Not To Think

Alexander Wolff of writes today of a Dutch speedskater: Holland’s Sven Kramer was as certain a gold medalist in the 10,000 meters as any contestant in any event at these Games. The world-record holder had been on his way to an Olympic record with eight laps to skate, holding a steadily expanding lead of more than six seconds over Lee Seung-Hoon of South Korea. That’s when Kramer’s coach, Gerard Kemkers, called out “inner lane!” In the space of that

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